The top seeds might not have surfed on the opening day of the SuperGirl Pro, but they've been put on notice by some top performances in the early rounds.
As is the case with the majority of the major contests on the World Surf League women's qualifying series, the top seeds were given a free pass through to round three at the event in California.
With the major players, which included 14 of the 16 fulltime Championship Tour athletes, off the waves, the lower seeds had the opportunity to shine. Among those who did was 39th-ranked Ella Williams.
The Whangamata surfer, who won the junior world championship title in 2013, was one of only four athletes to post a score in the excellent range in the 24 four-person heats contested this morning.
The 23-year-old dropped an eight-point ride late in her round-two heat to claim an early win and advance into round three, which begins later tonight. Her 12.57 heat total saw the Kiwi advance alongside Hawaiian Zoe McDougall in second place, with the pair eliminating Australian duo Sophia Fulton and Freya Prumm.
When the action resumes at Oceanside Pier tonight, Williams will face a tough test in round three, meeting current CT surfers Bronte Macaulay (Australia) and Courtney Conlogue (USA), as well as Hawaiian Bailey Nagy, who is ranked 42nd on the QS, in the second heat of the day.
In heat 11, fellow Kiwi Paige Hareb will make her return to competition after a six-week lay off due to a rib injury. Hareb was forced to withdraw from the last three competitions she had intended to participate in after she was forced into a boulder while surfing in Mexico last month.
She will meet fellow CT athlete Sage Erickson (USA), as well as Hawaiian Summer Macedo - ranked in the top 25 on the QS - and 87th ranked Rachel Presti (USA).
Despite having only competed in three events on the QS this year, Hareb sits 13th on the ladder with 6900 points. Simply stepping foot in the water will see her season tally improve, however making it through to at least the quarterfinals will likely see her rise up the leaderboard.
For Hareb, the QS now holds more importance for her 2019 aspirations to remain on the CT. The 28-year-old has struggled for results in her return to the CT this season, and at the halfway point was looking likely to need the QS to hold her spot next year. The top 10 on the CT hold their spots for the next season, with the top six on the QS getting automatic qualification to the CT.
Should a top-10 CT surfer also finish in the top six on the QS, the next best is promoted.